HELENA — Helena Capital High boys basketball coach Guy Almquist preached to his team all season to be resilient, and his team demonstrated just that level of resiliency he referred to in a 47-46 AA Western Conference loss to the top-ranked Missoula Hellgate on Saturday night.
At the end of the first period, the Knights proved why they have been the top-ranked team week after week in the 406mtsports.com polls, and took a commanding 28-20 lead at halftime, but their lead wasn't safe.
The Bruins (6-8, 3-5), who made some adjustments late in the second quarter, came out in the third quarter and held the Knights to two total points, and manufactured 13 points in their comeback effort.
Hellgate (12-1, 8-0) was led by Rollie Worster, who had a team-high 15 points in the loss even with fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
In spite of falling by one at the end, Almquist was pleased with his team's effort.
"To hold that team to two points, that was a Herculean effort from us," Almquist said. "We have played everyone except Hellgate tough, and now we've played them tough."
Almquist said he is extremely proud of his team, moving forward, in what should make an exciting end of the season.
"Without question, I am super proud of them, and I feel bad for them because they did everything they needed to do to win this game, a couple of bounces here and there," Almquist said. "They could have buried us (in the first quarter) and that was a real gut-check for us. I am super proud, and now we just have to continue to work on getting better in the last three minutes."
The Knights were led by Abe Johnson and Fisher Richardson, both finishing the night with 10 points, as Worster was out of the game.
Trevor Swanson had a game-high 16 points, and Parker Johnston finished with 11 points in the game for the Bruins.
Almquist, whose team is starting to improve in the second half of the season, was happy with his conversation he had with his team.
"We had a good team conversation about lifting each other up and staying together in tough times," Almquist said. "To stay confident, and play against one of the best teams in the state, we just have to put our foot down in the last three minutes of the game. It's near the end of the season, and we have to start doing that."